Exploring Hakodate on the cheap with a tram pass

In preparation for the release of my new book, Super Cheap Hokkaido, I went to Hakodate to see what all the fuss was about! Located to the south of Hokkaido, it’s a port town well known for its foreign influences, fish market and easy-to-use tram system. With a one-day tram pass only costing 600 yen, I thought it would be an excellent way to explore the city and pack in as much as I could in a day. Here is what I got up to.

Hakodate trams are basic, yet clean and regular

The tram pass is available at the tourist center in the station as well as many hotels in the city. It also comes with a handy map, so it’s super easy to know which tram stop you’ll need to go to for each tourist spot.

Hakodate tram one-day pass

First, I went to the fish market, as it’s right next to the station. It’s also best to visit in the morning, when all the shops are open. There are countless items on offer here, so take your time to check out all the stalls, then choose what looks best. Many of the stalls can also cook or prepare the fish for you, right there and then.

Exploring the fish market
I spent at least an hour watching the locals doing their thing

After stuffing my face on all that grub, I headed to Motomachi. Full of old embassy and merchant buildings from years back, there are a few stops of interest on the tram in this area. Being a brit, I checked out the old British embassy, then proceeded to check out all the churches and cathedrals.

The old Russian Orthodox Church

After seeing all that history, I’d recommend heading to the red brick buildings for a bit of retail therepy. There are also some fancy cafes, and occationally chances to see the locals making various foods and souvenirs by hand.

The iconic red brick buildings
I wonder what food this is!

While the tram is a great way to get around, you’ll still need to walk a bit from the trams stops to get to each tourist site. So, after all that walking, you’ll probably feel a little tired at the end of the day. Therefore a great way to end the day with your tram pass is to head to the east side and enjoy one of the hot springs. I opted to head to the free hot spring foot bath, conveniently located outside a tram stop.

Chilling out in the foot bath

Want to visit Hakodate and the island of Hokkaido? Get my new budget travel guide!

Published by Matthew Baxter

Japan travel writer and onsen addict